most of the humorous stories but also friendship stories that generated an opportunity for leadership bats the congressional black caucus was so unique. small in size, but willing if you will to traverse rolls that had not been traverse. let me just leave you with two or three action items of the congressional black caucus that often are not noted. we are for legislation. we are seeing here on the hill but i think it is important in quiet times to recognize that there had to be some toughness going on. members of the congressional black caucus organized and marched were the first voices to ask for the change in government, albeit there have been long-standing interactions with their african brothers and sisters in libya. ..
were the ones that would make the ultimate decision, and in essence, we were polite. we listened. we smiled. we indicated we wanted to see the president of the united states of america. we did not move. it was finally recognized that we had to meet with the president of the united states on this vital issue. stories not run up, stories that are not, if you will, crafted in history. finally, some years ago, students of a and m denied their rights to vote, and went to the supreme court, and we marched down a country road with 7,000
people for 20 miles. the country town had never seen the likes of to ensure that students could vote where they pent to school. i would say in the great state of florida, under another governor, when someone raised their head about affirmative action and the call came out from congressman brown and meeks and hastings that we needed a few of you down here, and that great state recognized that with the coming together, the national black caucus, just the presence of being able to say we were in the house, 25,000 people, marched to the state capitol, and as i recall, congresswoman, we won. these storied are not chronicled. we know the historic life of congressman and john lewis, but
in the mind, unwritten books are stories where the congressional black caucus, members far and wide are to be touted. i'll close on this one with two dear sisters no longer with us. wanet mcdonald, chaired the committee in congress and put in congress the first african-american picture of a congressperson which you'll find as we enter into the united states chambers there with jones, who after the 2004 election rose to the floor of the house and said, i, too, am american. this election was unfair. as many members also came and did something that had not been
done for'ons where you -- ions where you accept the electoral college and members arrived in washington, went on the floor and respectfully objected one after another. you can see that it is a place where much may not be written, but we are grateful for the work they have done. i encourage you in the last lawyer's closing to visit so sojourner truth who we hope to move in the rightful place, the only african-american in the united states congress in legislation that i introduced, and we placed her in the united states capitol just a few years ago with the support of all the members of the congressional black caucus, and certainly, at that time, senator hillary clinton. we can do things, together, collaborate, but never leave who we are outside the door for the
history is too precious to leave behind. thank you congressman and congresswoman. [applause] with that note, another round of applause for our sponsor, congresswoman wilson. [applause] thank you, all, for this wonderful program and have a wonderful black history month. [applause] >> up next, morris berman talks about the decline of the urban empire arguing self-interests
trumps the common good that led the u.s. astray. 24 is just over -- this is just over an hour. >> okay, i guess we're ready to roll. thank you, all, for coming. i never know how many are going to attend, and i've gotten to the point that if it's more than three, i consider it a success, you know? [laughter] came out of a book tour i do in 2006, a favorite of mine. it was in a bookstore in philadelphia, downtown, and three people showed up, and one of them fell asleep during the talk, and i was -- waiting if he was going to snore or fall out of his chair. luckily, that was not recorded by c-span. the worst was seeing the flier from the store. this did happen, okay? the flier from the star, and it
says he's dean of optometry, and so i offered anybody who bought the book, i would give them a free eye exam, but not many people took me up on it. anyway, i want to thank barnes & noble for hosting this so we can get together and talk about issues that i think are very important. there seems to be confusion in the united states. a lot of people don't realize that america failed. they think it's still going on, you know? just as i entered here a guy said to me, i didn't know america failed. i said stick around, stick around. i also wanted to just give this particular talk in terms of the stuff i've been writing. why america failed is a third in the trilogy on the american empire. the first one was the twilight
of american culture published in year 2000. second is the dark ages published in 2006, and this came out about a month ago, "why america failed". there was, however, a collection of essays that i published about a year ago that is so it came between book two and three. about half the essays are about the united states, and i kind of want to encourage you to have a look at the book called "the question of values,," and the reason it's important because there's material in there that's not in any other books, but it deals with the kind of unconscious programming that americans have that leads them to do the things they do whether it's a person in the street, and that sort of completes the picture. i just want to, you know, encourage you to look at that book. the title of this talk is
entitled "the way we live today." despite great pressure to conform to the united states and celebrate the united states as the best in the world, the nation does not lack for critics. the last two decades saw numerous works criticizing domestic policy, foreign policy, in particular, the financial policy, the education, corporate influence over american life, military, and so on. this is estute, and i learned much, but two things lack in my opinion and have a hard time making it into the public eye because americans are not trained to think in a holistic fashion and this analysis i have in mind is too close to the bone. it's very difficult for americans to hear it, hence somebody would say, "i didn't know it failed." you know? the first thing we lack is an
integration of the various factors that have done the country in. these studies tend to be institution specific as though it existed in a vacuum and could be understood apart from other institutions. the second thing lacking is the relationship to the culture at large, the values and behaviors that americans manifest on a daily basis. as a result, these critiques are finely superficial. they don't get to the root of the problem, and this avoidance enables them to be optimistic, which, in fact, places them in the american mainstream. the authors conclude these studies with practical recommendations as to how the particular institutional dysfunctions they identified can be rectified. they are, as a result, on that path. it's usually a mechanical analysis with a mechanical solution. if the authors would have realized these problems do not
exist in the vacuum, but are related to all the other problems and are finely rooted in the nature of american culture itself, in its dna, so to speak, the prognosis would not be as rosy because it's clear there's no way out, that turning things around is not an option at this point. to take two example, michael moore, admire him greatly, raised awareness in the united states, to show both foreign and domestic policy as pursued are dead ends or worse, and yet both of the men assume the problem is coming from the top, which is partly true, of course. the problem is this rests on these and the belief that the institutions pulled the world over the eyes of the average american citizen is well-intentioned. i would say to them, get out, talk to people, you know?
find out how accurate that is. it's one of education. pull the world away from the eyes, and the citizenry awakens and commits itself to a popular social provision. is that happening now with occupy wall street? it's an important question, and i think we should talk about it afterwards in the q&a. what if the world is the eyes? the so-called average citizen really does want, as janice put it, and probably not much else, they are grateful to the corporations for supplying us with oceans of consumer goods and to the pentagon for protecting us from the awful arab lurking in the middle east. if that's so, then the possibilities for fundamental change appear to be small. what would be called for is a
set of different institutions in a different type of culture. personally, i doubt there's much chance of that. america is, after all, what it is. surveying the scene, and there's few writers seeing thing as an integrated whole and who further relate this to the culture itself, but there are a few. the titles of their books give them away. the puritan origins of the american self, "war is a force that gives us meaning," the "the myth of the american diplomacy," just to name a few. there's historians coming to mind, williams, david potter, jackson leers. there's others. all of the thinkers are radical in the sense of going down to the root of thins. a canadian who taught american studies for decades at harvard argues that from 1930 the
colonists had the idea that they were establishing a new nation under the specific direction of providence and reenacting the drama of the old testament and crossing the atlantic like jordon, they entered the new world of cananna rejecting -- canaan, rejecting i jipt for the new jerusalem. american identity originally developed around the idea of the other, whoever it was, as being cynical. thus, that our identity is based on war. we never really negotiated anything with anyone as other nations found out too late usually. chris hedges amplifies the notion by arguing war gives american a reason for being, a meaning to their lives.
all of this, to me, is sophisticated compared to a false theory of consciousness and some believe we are well intentioned and rational, but it argues, we are, and have been, hopelessly that rottic or worse, that the belief that we can pursue a truly different path a this stage of the game is deluded. as it would, the yanking out of the american psyche by its very roots. i like to think i fall into the latter of the historian because i think this version of american history that's most faithful to reality. there are a number of themes to discuss at this point. one i examined are beyond the american empire, the third volume of which, "why america failed" just prevailed and because you don't want me to talk for 14 hours, i'll restrict myself to a single idea, one
introduced in the collection of essays i mentioned before, a question of values, published last year. i borrowed a concept from the german philosopher, that of negative identity. by negative, he means reactive. a negative identity is one formed in opposition to something or someone else. it enables you to develop very strong egoboundaries, but because it's formed via opposition, there's no real content. as a result, it looks strong, but it's actually weak because the self-definition is entirely relational. in a famous passage, take aways slave, the master would have nothing to define himself by. what i argue is that this con concept of negative identity applies particularly well to america, to the history of the american continent. opposition in whatever form
provided the colonists with a narrative enabling them to make sense of their lives. this did not take much to turn it into a narrative. in which the enemy, whoever it was, was the darkest was dark. the title of this formed over time, but the form of opposition remained the same. native americans were seen as savages, an obstacle to quote civilization and treated accordingly, and every thanksgiving we sit, carve turkey and celebrate the near extinction of an entire people, hooray for us. britain was corrupted in the view of the colonists organic,
we, citizens of the future of the united states, non-british, non-european, but rather republican. the brutality visited upon the loyalists, nearly half million americans, that is 30% of the population at that time, who did not go along with this black and white agenda, almost never gets discussed in american history books. it gets discussed in canadian and british history books, by the way, but it's been recorded nonetheless. intimidation, tarring, feathering, taking and burning of property, driven from their homes, and murdered as, quote, "traitors." a book in the area called "liberties exiles," it's really excellent. it's probably here. there's few american book the here because it violates the myth of american innocence.
there's the opposition to mexico involving provoking a phony war stealing more than half the country. in the case of the american indians, it was convenient to cast the mexican people undeveloped lacking the energy of u.s. capitalism, an unfortunate stereotype that persists to some extent down to the present day. ii know, i live in mexico. they were seen as living in the way of progress, and i use that in quotes, the american manifest study ordained by god. in fact, the mexican government was aware of whom they were dealing with, and in the late 1820s, the mexican commission wrote they were an ambitious people, ready to encroach upon their neighbors without a sphark of good -- separate of good faith. as robert kagan writes,
everybody viewed the united states this way. french diplomats called america war like and restless. they didn't have wikileaks in those days, but the information got out somehow without fancy technology. after the same frame work used to kill americans and mexicans was applied to the american south, a lazy do-nothing society in the way of progress. as i discuss in the why america failed, it was not northern opposition to slavery triggering the civil war, although it played a role in the unifying theme, a rallying cry. i'm not, of course, for slavery, and it could be argued without the war, slavery would have continued for decades more, although some historians disagree with that assessment. the more conflict, there was a clash of cultures. the slow easy way of the south as opposed to the restless economic expansion of the north. both regarded the other as the
devil and the result was a loss of 625,000 lives and a massive destruction of the south that epitomized by sherman's march to the sea, violent beyond belief. the scars still exist, and to the south, the war is not over, as you know. e resentment runs deep. the germans were next, and in the quote, "godless communists. " it occurred almost over night and not difficult to see why. they had to be an enemy in place to fill the resulting vacuum. although it was repressive in the extreme, did did not, as the american diplomat, george canyon, was later to argue, have to be cast as the ultimate enemy because the real goal lay in securing its borders. kgb came open after the fall of the soviet union revealed that russia's real fear was not of
the united states, but for germany. there was no attempt to settle anything. negotiation actually meant failure, and in any case, the cold war kept the u.s. busy for decades and the so-called perimeter defense, holding that any disturbance in the world led to disasters, and it's a long list, well documented by the "new york times" reporter and in the book, "overthrow," for example, or in "killing hope." it's well documented. psychological structure of negative io identity led to a crisis when the soviet union collapsed and we had no one to define ourselves against. the gulf war filled the gap for a time, but the clinton years were largely meaningless without
an enemy, we had no idea who we were, and we filled the space with monica lieu win ski. the islamic world did the greatest favor and attacked us. communism replaced -- terrorism replaced communism, and framed it as a war between good and evil, a crew -- crusade. there was no possible discussion of american foreign policy in the middle east playing a role in the events, such a notion was treason. they found out when suggested this by losing their jobs. it's the end of the story. to this day, under the obama administration, your american tax dollars pay for workshops teaching the police and military
that islam is an evil religion out to destroy america in which must therefore be destroyed first. workshops go on all the time, well funded by the government, your dollars. again, it's civilization against the is a -- savages. george canyon said making a monolith out of communism was a gross misunderstanding and huge conflicts, for example, between russia and china. because this requires card board figures, american presidents from truman on paid no attention to his advice. a similar thing now exists with respect to islam. only 10% of american muslims are actually religious. for most of them, islam is more of a social thing than anything else. it's like the jews, go to synagogue, talk to people, and eat. you know, even then, few religious muslims are jihads,
but when your identity is a negative one, this type of nuance has to be kept out of one's consciousness. americans regard pakistan as a dark and awful place, the country that hid bin laden from the american troops or that harbors al-qaeda operatives, hence our drone strikes in the country which killed civilians. what would america said if they read in the newspapers as i did last june as i picked up a copy of "the guardian" that is a popular show there is a comedian poking fun of the government and hosts songs like rock groups who sing songs like burka women that ridicules muslim fundmentallism. this is as basic as the roy song, "pretty woman," but it
goes burka woman, walking down the street, burka woman, sexy is your feet because that's all you can see. this could potentially lead to a softening of the boundaries, a question of who we are, beyond the nation in opposition to something, and then mass suicide because we have no reason for living. [laughter] mass suicide is what we do anyway. why not get it over with. all forms of violence are quest for identity. it's a great line. all forms of violence are quests for identity. professors of humanity at hoover university in jerusalem wrote there's nothing more preshesz an an enemy, especially one whom you've largely created by your own acts and placed some necessary role in the inner dram
ma of your -- drama of your soul. he pegged that right. what is the american soul? do we have one? what defines it? this emptiness at the center makes our quest for identity cute and policies violent. it's one of scorched earth and shock and awe. it's we who prove to be the sage advantages and this -- savages. it's interesting that the theme of paul's novels, pick them up in the fiction section, the theme is there are societies that are incoherent, lacks identity, and nothing more than a hall of mirrors. he's been saying that for years, and by and large, americans don't even know who he is, and they don't read him. on the other hand, he's tremendously popular in europe, translated into 20 # languages and four editions constitute of bulk of his sales.
criticism is not possible in this world, of course, and the u.s. is good at marginalizing writer attempting to critique the country in a fundamental way. americans are not interested in such things anyway, which is why overt censorship is unnecessary in the united states, but the result as in the famous goya painting devouring his son, the united states is now imploding eating itself alive. i argue this in dark ages of america in 2006, the data assault and battery stanuating this -- sub stanuating since then is enormous. i'm running out of room in my house. there's not a single american institution that is not seriously corrupt, and i could sit here for hours documenting this. again, i know you want to get home or go to pink taco or something. rather than that, let me cite a few examples.
first, leading intellectuals did an essay in the new york review of books showing that the supreme court is now a quote of men and not laws. five out of the nine of the justices, decisions are made in advance in a right wing political direction and the justification for the decisions is trotted out after the fact even if it violates the constitution. second, the sociologists report after two years of college, 45% of american students have learned nothing and after four years, 46% have not learned anything. given what they have not learned is critical thinking and analytical skills. they don't know the difference between opinion and arguments or what evidence is. they don't know it. most students, when asked, and by these researchers, most students said that for them,
college was a social, not an academic experience. half the students did not take a court in the last semester requiring more than 20 pages of writing and they have not taken courses requiring more than 40 pages of reading. a poll released on july 4th of this year shows that 42% of american adults are unaware that the u.s. declaredded its independence in 1776, 4 #%, and the figure rises to 69% for the under 30 age group. 25% don't know where the united states proceeded. what happened? a news week poll reveals 73% of americans can't give the official version of why we fought the cold war. of course, i mean, almost nobody gives the real version, but 73% can't give the official
version. 44% are unable to define the bill of rights. a poll taken in the oklahoma public school this year turned up the fact that 77% of the students don't know who george washington was, 77%. 234 a number of cities, libraries closed for lack of funding and lack of interest. nobody's reading. last january, a serious candidate praised the founding fathers for, "working tirelessly for abolishing slavery" when they actually agreed a black person legally constituted 60% of a human being and cited slavery in the constitution. this genius also claimed the u.s. government was working with the chinese to abolish -- on august 18th after the straw poll victory in iowa, she asserted the american people are concerned about the rise of the soviet union, which is a threat,
present tense. iowa's disturbed he left out hitler, poised to invade poland any day now. it's also the case that it's michele bachmann. what's inside their heads? more stuff along these lines. the new high school curriculum in texas now includes a unit on este lauder, but no units on george washington, john adams, or thomas jefferson. when i read this, i thought i was reading "the onion," but it was a teaks -- texas newspaper. i'm tempted to write a letter to the texas board of education
suggesting that the units on lincoln and fdr be eliminated, and we have one on kim kardashian. [laughter] you laugh, but in two years, when it happens, then what? who would have thought este lauder. it's satire, but then it's real, and in 2013 when they study kim's rear end, marriage, and divorce, one of the world's living writers wrote a poem about here. there's a lot of material here. lincoln is very little, but kim, you know? [laughter] i'm one of the few critics hammering at the crucial reason things cannot be turned around that americans don't have the gray mat matter to. this is very impolite, but there
are phillip greene saying it in an article called "farewell to democracy" and wrote what seized the critical mass of americans is historical amnesia and intellectual acuity, a politics of social self-destruction. put it on the line, you know? if you're stupid, you can't do a whole lot. [laughter] >> the people who promulgated the crash, got appointed as the president's adviser, and not a single wall street financial leader faced jail, and, indeed, major corporate figures who brought the economy down were awarded huge bonuses and some secured appointments at johns hopkins, and the brookings institution, meanwhile, i was a
janitor at hopkins and brookings institutions what led to the crash and the like are now pursued with more vigor than prior to the crash. one asks, how is it that in the wake of the obviously failure of capitalism, blame for the crash is not put on the banks, which received bailouts of upwards of $19 trillion and the corporations, but on the public sector? rhetorical question. fourth, between 1987 and 2007, the number of americans so disabled by mental disorders they call for supplementary security income or social security disability insurance increased 2.5 times so that one out of 76 americans now falls into this category. for children, it's 35 times. mental illness is now the leading cause of disability
among american children. a survey of american adults conducted by the national institute of mental health from 2001 to 2003 found that 46% of them met the criteria of the american sigh -- psych key at rick association. at age six, now down to age four, take antidepressants. todd leers on -- toddlers on prozac, and i'm sure you read that. american's consumption of antidepressants amounts to two-thirds of the world. they have less than 5% of the world's population should tell you something about what's going on in the united states. i have a pakistani friend living 234 london, and she was has an art gallery and consul at that
particular time for a number of years -- consultant for a number of years, and when she was in new york, she had a novelty shop, had a plaque, and i was visiting her in london in june, and it was on her bathroom wall, and the heading is even at 7 in the hall, moppet, alcoholics, tuesday, abused spouses, wednesday, eating disorders, thursdays, drug addiction, friday, teen suicide, saturday, soup kitchen, sunday sermon at 9 a.m., america's joyous future. [laughter] somebody has humor. five, it's crumb ling and no money to fix it. there is some cases ideological opposition to fixing it. the levies of new orleans are in the same shape they were prior
to cay katrina. i'm frustrated i didn't clip the article because i don't know if it took place in new orleans, but the counselman stated that they did not want to move on the issue of repairing the lev levies because that requires cooperative effort, and this, they said, meant socialism. apparently in the united states, working together is equivalent to socialism, and it's better to risk another katrina. it doesn't get dumber than that. i mean, that's, you know -- number six, the national debt stands at more than $14 trillion, and the official figure for poverty and hunger is 45 million citizens. this based on criteria that are pretty much obsolete, you know, family of four, $4,000 whorks are we kidding? you know. nearly 20% of adults are out of work. don't include the -- don't think about the 9%.
basically, nearly one out of five americans are out of work or under employed with, according to what this says, will not fine a job for the next ten years. the president has the right, although it violates the yes geneva aaccords to deem anyone an enemy and have him or her assassinated. it occurred on september 30th, obama had an american citizen murdered. now, you know, it was not clear whether they were aiding al-qaeda or not. it was not proven, but the point is that the u.s. constitution guarantees for every american citizen you get a day in court. it doesn't say if the president doesn't like you you get rubbed out. it says you get a day in court.
chris hedges wrote an article on july 18 #th, posted it on truth dig called america's disappeared in which he writes, "torture, prolonged detention without trial, sexual humiliation, rape, random murder, and abuse have become as argentina in the dirty war, part of our own world of detention sites and torture centers. we know of at least 100 detainees who died at the sites and many more whose fate was never made public. thousands of muslim men passed through the centers without due process. we tortured people unmercifully and probably murdered dozens of them, armed forces and the cia." tens of thousands of mens held in supermaximum security prisons where they are deprived of
contact and psychologically destroyed, undocumented workers rounded up and vanished from their families for weeks or months. militarized police units break down the doors of 40 # ,000 americans a year and haul them away in the dead of night as if they were enemy combatants, habeas corpus no longer exists. again, phillip greene in the article i quoted before, a people who accepts the normal course of events, bombing of civilians, torture, kidnapping, detention, assassinations, and covert wars abroad lost touch with the moral basis of civil society. eight, the u.s. military which soaks up 50% of the discretionary budget is appointly unable to win two wars in two small countries. in fact, it is not had the support too after which it decided to play it safe and
stick to dictators and minor nations. nine, a u.s. intelligence report released in 2008, global trends 2025, i read about it in the "washington post" in 2008, predicts a steady decline in american dominance with u.s. leadership eroding as an accelerating pace and political, economic, and arguably culturally areas." to my knowledge, the president never mentioned the report nor has anyone in public office. ten, on july 19 #th of 2010, it was reported that 854,000 people work for the national security agency, the nsa. in 33 building complexes amounting to 17 million square feet of space in the dc area. collection systems at the nsa interpret and store 1.4 billion
e-mails and phone calls of american citizens in what amounts to a spy system. on may 23rd of this year, it was reported that the nsa has three times the budget of the cia with the capacity to download every six hours electronic communications equivalent to the entire contents of the library of congress. they also developed a program called thin thread that enables computers to scan material for key words and collect the billing records and dialed phone numbers of everyone in the country. in violation of communications laws, at&t, verizon, and bell south provide electronic records to the governments. at the height of insanity, and i have to say, east germany, for those of you who saw the film, the lives of others, at the height of the insanity, they were spying out of one out of
every seven east german citizens. the united states spies on seven out of every seven. 11, you can no go to jail in the united states for speaking. in late july this year, environmental activist was sentenced to two years in prison for the repeated declaration that environmental protection required civil, non-violent agreement. one wonders if the same judge would have put rosa parks in jail had he been around. 12, this is my favorite that also occurred in july. a small incident, but symbolic of what's happening to america all the years. police in georgia shut down the lemonade stand run by three girls ages 10-14. they were trying to save up money. police said they didn't know
what was in the lemonade, and in addition, the girls needed a business license, a peddlers permit, and a food permit in order to run the stand. the permits, by the way, cost $50 a day. the deepest corruption, i think, is the american soul. the sheer cruelty of the american people with articles now appearing on this. there was a piece in the nation talking about at a gop gathering, ron paul indicated that if you didn't have health insurance and you went into a coma, too bad for you. basically let them die is what he indicated, and the crowd cheered, ruered in approval. they roared when rick perry
posted that, you know, he -- the state of texas murdered 235 people on death row. >> there's a steepening grade yept of -- gradient of cruelty in the united states. there's one in the "new york times," just a week ago reported there's a law firm near buffalo, new york, and in 2010, not this year, but 2010, they threw a halloween party. this is a firm that's called the foreclosure mill. in other words, they act on behalf of the banks and mortgage servicers throwing people out in the street, fore closing on houses and throwing them in the street, and it's the largest firm of the sort in new york
state representing citi group, bank of america, and so on, and the firm threw a halloween party at which the employees came dress as people who had been fore closed upon and evicted. they had signs saying we'll work for food. the firm denied it took place, but the problem is the photographs are online. here they are, you know, people pushing shopping carts. how sick can we get? you know, as far as stats go, 38 states have capital punishment, regarded as barbaric in europe, a study that ran from 1979-2009 on college students measured that there had been a 48% drop
in empathy among that age group. the ability just to feel what the other person is feeling or know their point of view. douglas, a therapist in washington, d.c. calls this empathy deficit disorder, that the americans suffer from an empathy deficit disorder. it means they are vicious. word for nasty folks. we have a lot of them. we have a lot of them. depressing i say. one of the major arguments made in the books is that all this stuff i'm talking about, about the failure of the u.s., is not abstract. it shows up in the behavior of daily life, values, behaviors, and so on. this is on page 56 of the book and i quote in the middle of the page as george waldon writes in god won't save america, "the pee
-- the peculiarities of the peoples and plato remarked, where else would they have come from? when the editor went over the manuscript and got to that part, he said, this is the turning point of the book. this is the case you make. 24 is it. you know, these are not abstractions but the way people behave on a daily basis in the united states. although he doesn't get into the issue of negative identity per se, the french writer, director of the presee gas research institute in paris. he pegged the problem of having an enemy with the violence resulting in that in the 1994 book called the werewolf
complex, a dark beast supposedly out to destroy it. the beast changes in content, he says, but the form is always the same. at the center is a fear of emptiness about existing in which they disguise with a hyperactive optimism. have a nice day. a curious society, he writes, of people who don't know who they are. the romans see themselves under siege which could timely trigger a fascist pop pewism. -- poppopularrism. the american fear of the monster marks its history whether it's on the inside or outside isolating the country in a collective psychosis that attributes to international
instability. this is how most of the world sees us, of course, and a poll asked the question which nation do you believe is the greatest threat to world peace. america and israel said iran and everybody else said the united states, you know? it was a no-brainer. one argues the united states is basically a failed state, not really part of the west anymore, and that europe needs to protect itself, needs to keep its distance from what is a very different and apparently insane, his word, apparently insane political culture. evidence for this assertion and for integration of the country is depressingly familiar. there is, he concludes, no deliverance in sight. i got an e-mail from a fan who
wrote i just read your books, and i thank you for your brilliant and pointless books. [laughter] comment is hilarious because the guy's right. i mean, the books are pointless in they have no ability to change anything whatsoever. what is mental health mean in an individual case? at least this. the person knows his or her own personal narrative and can see it from the outside and as a result of this transparency, undertakes to do something different in their lives, you know? perhaps the same is true of a nation or civilization, i don't know, but i know there's little understanding in the united states as to what the narrative is or even that there is a narrative. there's little interest in thinking about the national identity or lack of saying anything more than in superficial way provided by the "new york times".
change is simply not possible in such a situation. the odds we'll continue on this unconscious path are overwhelming. in that sense, my work is -- as a writer and social critic, i can't stop the plane from crashing, no one can. i sur survey the wreck, writes up a report, post mortem, this is it. that, i believe, has small value because i think we finally, as americans need to know why america failed. thank you. [applause] thank you very much. if you have questions about michele flournoy -- michele bachmann or anybody else, we can get that. remember to use the microphone over here. oh, good, i get to go home early. oh, no, i don't.
okay. [laughter] thank you so much. >> many critics talk about america's relationship with the visions in brave new world. i wonder what your opinion is to the relationship of those two and where you see us right now. >> good question. classic utopian novel. the interesting thing is that the vision of orwell was that of, you know, ends the book with the vision of a boot stamping on somebody's face forever, you snow? the vision of huxley was a soft fascism, everybody drifting off into la-la land. sorry, but you know what i mean.
what the united states is doing, not necessarily consciously, but it's what it worked into, is something happening between the two of them. the surveillance of every citizen, everybody sitting here, they recorded your phone conversations, recorded your e rails. don't think you're exempt. everybody here is in that category, not just me. so the sort of state police style is growing in the united states, and that harshness is characteristic of a nation or civilization that very anxious about itself and overreacting all the time. that's the orwell part. the huxley part is that there are so many available ways now
to drift off into concern about anything. it's not merely a television administered in the late 40s and done its work greatly, but the mention of an ipod, cell phones, and all that stuff, and ralph nader pegged it well, give them gadgets in their hands, and they think it's power. that's not the power. it's political power. the sort of soothing kind of, not only that, but then the rise of drugs like prozac and now giving them to toddlers, giving drugs to 4-year-olds now which is quite, you know, quite a part of big agenda, and so finally, you get a crores between orwell and huxley, and i think that's what they got. i don't think orwell is necessary.
it's just a hysteria that the united states has as it loses because i have to talk about what ows really means, you know, and what kind of clout it is, but frankly, i don't agree with kris hedges that the ruling class is running scared. i think they sleep well in their beds, and i think they know they'll keep that 1% that keeps them more than 90% of its wealth, the wealth of the country. they know that, you know? so i mean, that's what i say where we're at, and, to me, it's a very ghastly vision, a grim thing. you know, try talking to americans about anything serious. they change the subject. they can't handle it, you know? so, you know. >> what do you think about the lack of empathy and controlled
media, controlled, or scripted, selective on what you see on tv and what you're not going to see. how do you think that plays in? >> well, you know, let me say that the original title of the book was, the working title was capitalism and its distance. my editor assured me if we went with that title, i'd sell six books nationwide. [laughter] maybe he was right, i don't know. i liked it because of the freudian overtones, you know? the reason i liked it is because i was interested in the discontents that if there is opposing of this stuff, and it goes back to captain john smith in 1616. ..